Building a Soup

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The Three Opportunities: You can dictate the character of your soup by how you decide to start cooking it.
 
1. Bold and sturdy flavors come from starting the soup by fast-browning the onions and some of the vegetables in good tasting fat over medium-high heat.
 
2. Mellow flavors are achieved with slow-stewing onions and key ingredients, like herbs, in a little fat in a covered pot over low heat.
 
3. Clear, true flavors come from simmering everything in liquid with no pre-sautés.
 
Note: Wine is a powerful flavor booster because alcohol opens up flavors that neither fats nor water release. Also, red wine is high in umami, a chemical component of some foods which heightens flavors. So be generous with the wine. Use white wine in pale soups, red in dark ones, and anticipate 1/2 cup for every eight cups of liquid. Contrary to rumor, all the alcohol in wine and other spirits does not cook off.
 
A Basic Formula:
  • 2 parts onion
  • 1/2 part garlic
  • 2 parts members of cabbage family (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.)
  • 1/2 part carrot
  • 1/4 part celery with leaves
  • 1/2 part root vegetables (celery root, rutabaga, turnips, etc.)
  • 1 part leafy vegetables (salad greens, chard, kale, turnip greens, mizuna, dandelion, escarole, endive, collards, etc.)
  • 1 part dry white or red wine
  • Water as needed 

From The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift, Clarkson Potter, 2008.

  • A look at the history of sugar, from art and language to 3-D printing

    Darra Goldstein is editor in chief of The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, an 888-page reference guide to all things sweet. "The book is really a compendium of human desires, a cultural history of desire for things that are sweet and what it has caused in the world, in both the realm of pleasure and also of pain," she says.

Top Recipes

Book Excerpts

Before paper confetti was invented, people threw candied nuts and plaster

A history of confetti from The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets edited by Darra Goldstein.